Hi my name is Sharon and I am writing this post for a number of reasons. Firstly, if it helps someone I am glad and secondly, I want to encourage people to talk about PND. I want to share my experience of PND and tell all you mums out there, or relatives of mums, that you can and will survive PND. I have been through it and recovered. Everyone is different and I am not an expert, but these are my thoughts that I will share with you.
When you have a baby and you aren’t coping, a number of things go through your head…for me it was the belief that this terrible feeling was going to last forever and I am going to get no relief from this. Anyone telling me that I would get over it – well I didn’t believe them. When you are depressed it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Also I felt guilty and I felt ashamed. I was a failure. Everyone else was perfectly turned out, made it to the baby class on time, looked amazing, saying a baby was the best thing since sliced bread and was always smiling. Me? I didn’t have any connection with my baby when she was born, I actually thought why do people have kids, this is so hard and I was always exhausted. I did not enjoy having a baby. It’s hard to say all these things now, but at the time in the depths of depression that was how I felt. Now my daughter is the best ever, makes me so happy and I love her more and more each day. Yes, I see why people have children and it is fantastic and you will feel like this too when you are feeling better – I promise.
I didn’t know I had depression, this was just ‘me’, as far as I was concerned. I struggled on not telling anyone how I felt. I tried to do everything, keep the house tidy, be perfect and smile. But inside I was crumbling. I didn’t want to tell anyone…I was ashamed and I didn’t want to go to the doctor in case she put me on an antidepressants…then I would officially be a failure. All these things…are mistakes. Please don’t do what I did. Please talk to someone, please don’t try to be perfect. When my baby was sleeping in the day, I had the hoover out cleaning! I should have been resting.
I developed an obsession with cleaning. One night, when I was cleaning, my husband set stuff on the bench I had just cleaned. I just snapped and went berserk. It was that bad, he said I want a divorce. So that was the wakeup call for me. I went to my doctor and told her. She said you have post-natal depression. I roared and cried when she said you need medication. Reluctantly I took them. I met my friends, I told them I had a terrible secret. They didn’t recoil in horror or judge me. Turned out half of them had been on anti-depressants at one time or another. That is how common it is.
Can I say that once I knew what was wrong with me, I could spot it in other mothers. When I scratched beneath the surface of the “perfect” mums I knew, when they were saying how wonderful it all was, I would say,” really, I find it very difficult and never slept last night”. They would say “really, actually that’s how I feel too”. No one is perfect, believe me! Most people found it refreshing that I was so open about it and as I said, the reality was that other mums felt the same. Yet we all put this pressure on ourselves to be perfect.
So how to you get on the road to recovery? I am not an expert but here are my tips and remember I am not an expert but they worked for me!
- Stop being perfect – it doesn’t matter that you didn’t get the floor cleaned
- Rest – get it when you can and all you can
- Don’t try to do it all! – I didn’t think it was fair that my working husband got up at night – so I did. If there is someone there to help you – use them!
- Enjoy yourself – do little things to enjoy yourself. For me, it was sod it I am buying that five pounds magazine and buying myself a coffee. Get little moments, when it’s not baby baby – little moments where your brain does something for you. Have me time! Its allowed!
- Eat properly – food plays a big part in your mood, especially your omegas. f you are not getting the right food, then you are not helping yourself. It’s the same with exercise. If you are depressed, you don’t want to go out. I made myself as hard as it was and as much as I dint want to – I always felt better after – I had achieved something.
- Talk to someone – share your problems. I rang the Association for Post Natal Illness and got a “buddy”. She rang me every week to ask me how it all was going and keep telling me you will get over this. She was a listening ear and someone I could talk to in confidence about how I really felt.
- Get medical help if you need it or talk to your health visitor.
- Get out and about – don’t become isolated. I had no immediate family and all my friends were at work. Go out and meet other mums. Event it is the LAST thing you want to do. I went to a little toddlers group in Islandmagee. I have to give a thinks to all those ladies who give up their time. They help so may mums and don’t realise it. Also go to your local coffee shop, especially in supermarkets. It’s usually full of lonely people too, especially the elderly who will only be too glad to talk to you. They will take your mind of your woes – I once met an old gent in my local supermarket. That was where he went each day – just to get out. His wife was dead and his kids grown up and away. He was dressed in a suit but still a bit unkempt – he obviously lived on his own. He told me when his first child was born they had to money. He had to make a pram out of some apple box and wheels…and how much he loved his baby son.
- Don’t be too hard on your self
- Set yourself little challenges – the first day I went into town – I thought I would have a breakdown and everyone would look at me. I thought I was going mad. I got into Belfast and I didn’t have a breakdown. That was really my turning point. I was able to do things again and I never looked back.
So please, it is a hard place to be in, when you have PND, but you will make it. Just keep going and don’t give up hope. I wish you well and will see you on the other side.